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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 May;1758(5):597-605. Epub 2006 Apr 5.

Comparison between low-level 50 Hz and 900 MHz electromagnetic stimulation on single channel ionic currents and on firing frequency in dorsal root ganglion isolated neurons.

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Dipartimento di Biologia Cellulare e dello Sviluppo Università La Sapienza, P.le Aldo Moro 5, I-00185 Roma, Italy.


Alteration of membrane surface charges represents one of the most interesting effects of the electromagnetic exposure on biological structures. Some evidence exists in the case of extremely low frequency whereas the same effect in the radiofrequency range has not been detected. Changes in transmembrane voltages are probably responsible for the mobilization of intracellular calcium described in some previous studies but not confirmed in others. These controversial results may be due to the cell type under examination and/or to the permeability properties of the membranes. According to such a hypothesis, calcium oscillations would be a secondary effect due to the induced change in the membrane voltage and thus dependent on the characteristics of ionic channels present in a particular preparation. Calcium increases could suggest more than one mechanism to explain the biological effects of exposure due to the fact that all the cellular pathways using calcium ions as a second messenger could be, in theory, disturbed by the electromagnetic field exposure. In the present work, we investigate the early phase of the signal transmission in the peripheral nervous system. We present evidence that the firing rate of rat sensory neurons can be modified by 50/60 Hz magnetic field but not by low level 900 MHz fields. The action of the 50/60 Hz magnetic field is biphasic. At first, the number of action potentials increases in time. Following this early phase, the firing rate decreases more rapidly than in control conditions. The explanation can be found at the single-channel level. Dynamic action current recordings in dorsal root ganglion neurons acutely exposed to the electromagnetic field show increased functionality of calcium channels. In parallel, a calcium-activated potassium channel is able to increase its mean open time.

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